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USA: The Water Research Foundation (WRF) is seeking laboratories to participate in an interlaboratory and methods assessment of the SARS-CoV-2 genetic signal in wastewater. This project was identified as a high-priority research need during WRF’s recent International Water Research Summit on Environmental Surveillance of COVID-19 Indicators. Currently, the project is focused on North America, primarily within the United States. However, we invite international laboratories to signal interest in participation as opportunities for partnerships are evaluated. Participating laboratories must have experience analyzing wastewater samples for the genetic signal of SARS-COV-2, be able to describe their method(s), and comply with the specified quality assurance protocols.

Based on the responses, WRF will compile a list of qualified potential participating laboratories and include them in an upcoming Request for Qualifications (RFQ). The purpose of the RFQ is to identify a research team to assist WRF in evaluating existing methods and testing reliability for the genetic signal of SARS-CoV-2. The selected research team will work in partnership with WRF to evaluate and select the participating laboratories. The research team will then set up the trial between selected participating laboratories, assess the methods used, perform statistical analyses, and compare test results. The research team will also prepare a report showcasing the assessment results. The project is anticipated to be completed within 6-8 weeks.

Submissions are due by 4 PM MDT on June 2, 2020.

Requirements for Participation
Laboratories must meet the following minimum qualifications to be considered for this study:

  • Ability to test 5–10 samples at their own expense
  • Has a developed method for the detection of the genetic signal of SARS-CoV-2 (a written protocol to be provided, with controls described)
  • Is routinely or planning to routinely analyze samples for the genetic signal of SARS-CoV-2 for environmental surveillance
  • Ability to handle wastewater samples that have been pre-treated to inactivate live micro-organisms (samples that have undergone pre-treatment [i.e., pasteurization])
  • Has the reagents and equipment to quickly process samples supplied by the selected research team
  • Is established as an environmental microbiology or research laboratory (provide any accreditation if available)
  • Has a quality assurance plan for the overall operation of the lab that can be submitted to requesting RFQ respondents
  • Has the ability to share data with the selected research team

The Water Research Foundation (WRF) is the world’s leading research organization advancing the science of all water to meet the evolving needs of its subscribers and the water sector. WRF is a nonprofit, educational organization that funds, manages, and publishes research on the technology, operation, and management of drinking water, wastewater, reuse, and stormwater systems. WRF represents approximately 1,200 subscribers, hosts an online research library of more than 2,300 completed projects valued at $700 million, manages an innovation platform with a database of more than 140 innovative technologies, and supports the world’s largest body of stormwater best practice data.

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